Most of us have recognized the growing anti-tech backlash in our midst. The targeting of Google and Yahoo employees for attacks, the ditching of smartphones, and the simple exodus of people off social media are all indicators that the trend has taken root and is growing. A lot of this is spurred by the tech establishments treatment of the rest of society and part is an outcome of the whole Snowden/NSA revelation. Now that anti-tech trend has hit the business establishment in a very public venue: The Olympics.
I had CNBC on in the background yesterday when Richard Engel came on the airwaves to discuss how NBC (the network for the Olympics) had run tests and discovered that literally within minutes of starting up an iPad or laptop, units were compromised by both State Security and organized crime. Know what the end result is? Reporters and employees attending the Olympics are ditching their tech devices.
The anchors on CNBC were showing off flip-phones they’d be using and pining away about how they were actually looking forward to doing business old school with face-to-face meetings, not a ton of emails, no texting and skyping but rather letters and memos. Now if the employees of the prominent financial channel start chatting about all the advantages there are to ditching their devices, the tech world has a problem.
The problem with the tech world is this attitude that they are the center of the universe and so they keep re-designing apps or devices, thinking that everyone else is just waiting to dive into the next new thing. Truth is more and more people are going “we are better off without that” and just ignoring them.
In the past year I’ve seen people ditch their smartphones, start writing snail mail (I myself have started doing this), and use more cash for purchases. Before where people would be busy looking at FB or their Twitter feed, they are now increasingly looking at each other. Social media is less and less about interaction and more and more about posting something just for yourself. Pinterest and Tumblr are great examples of this. You pin and post for yourself not to necessarily pass it on. If someone else likes it fine but if they don’t you won’t give it a second thought.
What this means for business is that the dynamics will shift again. If there is an exodus offline then how will that void be filled? Sure people will still do shopping online but even Amazon, if you read their reports, has begun to see limits on their reach. I don’t know where it will all lead (who does, right?) but I do know that having the praises of a non-tech life sung on an Olympic-sized stage doesn’t bode well for those ardent believers who think we are all destined to be ruled by a digital universe of our own making.